The Fall of Man, part 1

Overview of Genesis 3

The Fall of Man is chiefly recorded in Genesis chapter 3 and it is one of the most profound chapters of all of Holy Scripture. Lee Irons provides the following helpful outline of the fall. I will use this outline for a 3-part blog series on the Fall of Adam (Man).

  1. vss 1-7 : The Fall (Crime, breaking of the law and the covenant)
  2. vss 8-13: The Trial and Conviction
  3. vss 14-24: The Sentence

Review: The Covenant Between God and Adam (Man)

As to the question about whether there was actually a covenant between God and Adam, see Objections to The Adamic Covenant.

According to Irons, a covenant is an agreement between two parties with a stipulation, a sanction, and a promise. A helpful definition of ‘stipulation’ is provided by the 1828 Webster’s Dictionary below –


1. The act of agreeing and covenanting; a contracting or bargaining.

2. An agreement or covenant made by one person with another for the performance or forbearance of some act; a contract or bargain

A useful modern definition of how the word SANCTION is used in our present context is provided by the online Merriam Webster dictionary –

SANCTION, n. [L. sanctio, from sanctus, holy, solemn, established.]

3. The detriment, loss of reward, or coercive intervention annexed to a violation of a law as a means of enforcing the law

These basic elements are found in the Adamic Covenant of Genesis 2 in the following way:

  • Stipulation – Do not eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:16-17a)
  • Sanction – You shall surely die (Genesis 2:17b)
  • Promise – Tree of Life, a seal of eternal life (see Genesis 3:22)

Q: Who is the Serpent?

A: Satan – compare Genesis 3:15 with Rom 16:20 and Revelation 20:2.

But, can demons posses animals? Yes! See Mark 5:12-13.

And [Satan] Said Unto the Woman

Why the woman? Where is the covenant head? Where is Adam, the one who was given the stewardship of guarding and keeping (Gen 2:15) the garden? Why is Eve taking on the authority of the spiritual leader of the family? It is very interesting to note that Adam and Satan never directly confront one another. Rather, Satan uses Eve, in the absence of Adam, to get to Adam and to undermine Adam’s authoritative role and to bring him into bondage.

As Adam had kingly dominion over all of God’s creatures, he should have rebuked the snake. But in the end Adam capitulates to the desires of his wife and thereby the snake exercises dominion over the man.

Yea, Hath God Said?

The fall of man begins with doubting God’s Word. The sufficiency, authority, and perspicuity of God’s Word is attack in every generation. The doubting of God’s Word was the first tool Satan used (and continues to use) to ruin men and plunge them deeper and deeper into rebellion.

Modern Manifestations of this Error

Romanist objections to the Word of God are based on perspicuity and sufficiency; whereas liberal objections are based on higher criticism and skepticism.

Ye Shall Not Eat of Every Tree of the Garden

Satan begins his assault by attacking the stipulation of the covenant. He attempts to provoke Eve to discontentment and doubting the goodness of God. What a wicked sin is discontentment! Discontentment is a lack of faith. Discontentment is doubting the goodness of God. Discontentment is mistrust of the Sovereign Providence of God (note the apt title of Thomas Boston’s book on contentment: ‘The Hellish Sin of Discontentment‘).

Note again the absurdity! Of all God gave Eve, and she could be discontent over one small thing held back?! The audacity! The pride! It is as though Eve now saw God as an arbitrary despot. Eve begins to resent God’s law because of her pride.

Neither Shall Ye Touch It!

Did Eve lie here? Most Bible commentators believe Eve lied because Genesis 2 doesn’t specifically record God’s stipulation against touching the tree. I disagree. If Eve lied before the fall, this would have been the first sin and at this point, Eve had not yet fallen and had no sin nature prompting her to sin. It is possible that God, in his daily discourse with Adam, had warned him to stay clear of the tree. Perhaps this is why Adam is not present when Satan confronts Eve. Perhaps God told Adam not to eat of it or he would die – indeed, don’t even so much as touch it – put a hedge, as it were, about the tree and yourself in order to be safe. Perhaps this was relayed to Eve. Whatever the case, we don’t know and I don’t care to speculate that Eve sinned in relaying what she believed to be truth.

Ye Shall Not Surely Die!

Is God Trustworthy?

Next, having attacked the stipulation, Satan attacks the sanction – “ye shall not surely die!” Satan tries to place doubt in Eve’s mind about the trustworthiness of God’s word. He portrays himself as the one who has their best interest at heart as opposed to the despotic jealous and hallow threatening of God. He presents the case as though he were actually the one who is kind and jealous and wants their best, whereas God’s commandments only stand to stifle their full enjoyment of God’s creation.

Is God Sovereign?

Another aspect of this sin is that Satan challenges God’s Sovereignty. Does the Creator have Sovereign authority over His Creation? Does the Supreme Authority have the right to make laws that govern the behavior of those He rules over? Man, as a created being has no self-autonomy – no inherent self will to determine for himself what is right and wrong and to place himself as judge over what is right and wrong! Why would the Creator be so arbitrary as to create human-kind so ‘happy and free’ and in perfect communion with His Creator, only to hold back something from which would contribute to his happiness? Like a devious despot dangling a piece of cheese in front of a mouse.

Ye Shall Be As God

Isn’t this ultimately what all sin is about? What Satan offers man, and what every man longs for, is freedom – freedom from serving God and obeying His law. What man wants is not to serve a god, but to BE a god. What man actually gets is not freedom, but bondage – bondage to sin. In fact, the harder man struggles to be free, the further in bondage he is! This is the very root and essence of all sin – pride.

Says Geneva Bible note: ‘As though he said, God forbids you to eat of the fruit, only because he knows that if you eat of it, you will be like him.’


Note the progress of temptation here: 1) Eve draws near to the forbidden tree, 2) Eve considers Satan’s contradictions against God’s Word, 3) She gazes at what is forbidden, 4) She desires it, and 5) She partakes.

Genesis 3:6 – And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.

compare this with

1 John 2:16 – For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

In Eve’s day, everything that existed was made perfect. All was designed to reflect God’s amazing glory. After the fall, the world system, being under the curse, is depraved with sin and is driven by lust. ‘All that is in the world’ today steers our eyes away from Christ and to ourselves.

And Gave Also Unto Her Husband

It is interesting to note that the very first thing that Eve did after she fell into sin, was to tempt her husband to sin. What a lesson on the corrupting influence of sin!

The Fall

Adam and Eve did not incur the guilt of sin until Adam ate. When Adam ate, they were fallen. Immediately they suffered the consequences of sin, loss of innocence, guilt, and separation from God – and he did eat. And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked…”


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